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Fatigue worries Donovan
By ANTONYA ENGLISH
Published March 14, 2006
GAINESVILLE - Three games, three days, one championship.
One day after Florida earned its second straight SEC men's basketball tournament championship, coach Billy Donovan turned his attention to the NCAA Tournament and what it will take to get his team ready on such short rest.
Florida, which moved up to No.11 Monday, plays South Alabama on Thursday at about 2:45 p.m. (30 minutes after the 12:25 UW-Milwaukee-Oklahoma game) at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.
Though Florida won't have to fly to its destination, getting prepared is still no easy feat.
"We have to play on Thursday and we have a mandatory shoot-around (Wednesday) that the NCAA makes you do, which always throws a wrench into your plans," Donovan said Monday afternoon. "I think having to do (the shootaround) at that time of day really takes away from your preparation. When you go somewhere else and have to wait to practice, the day becomes very, very long.
"Physically, I feel like our guys have to take (Monday) off. We're going to have to get a lot done in a very short period of time (today), because as I said it's hard to get a quality practice in when you're on the floor for 50 minutes in the middle of the day (Wednesday). My main focus right now is getting our guys back physically, mentally and emotionally. Hopefully, they'll be very excited to play on Thursday."
As he massaged his left calf muscle during interviews, junior forward Chris Richard said this time of year players know they have to push the pain aside.
"Physically, a few of us may be tired because of the three games in a row, but we've got (Monday) off, and if we take care of our bodies the way we're supposed to, we should be all right," he said.
The Gators were still reveling in the championship but clearly are focused on what's ahead. Florida hasn't made it past the first round of the tournament since 2000 and each of those years has lost to a lower seed. Several national publications are listing the Gators as the team most likely to underachieve, but the players aren't concerned.
"I think we'll be okay," Richard said. "We won (the SEC), but we know the next game is more important than the last game, so we're coming in even hungrier because we want to succeed. We want to get far in the tournament, prove a lot of critics wrong and do the best that we can and try to win the whole thing. We know if we come in confident, not cocky, we'll be able to do pretty good."
PARENTAL GUIDANCE: When sophomore guard Taurean Green fell ill with a stomach virus Friday night, parents Deidra and Sidney offered some words of inspiration.
"We told him he had to fight it," Deidra said. "We talked to him about Michael Jordan and how he struggled with the flu but came back to play in the championship game. And we talked about Pete Sampras and how he played in the U.S. Open while he was sick. We just told him to gut it out, and he did. He was very sick, he barely got any sleep, but I knew he was going to come back."
Green earned tournament MVP honors, scoring double figures in back-to-back games.
TAMPA CONTINGENT: The families of Tampa natives Tarence Kinsey and Renaldo Balkman helped make up the contingent of South Carolina fans who watched as the Gamecocks nearly upset the Gators on Sunday afternoon.
Sophia and Tarence Kinsey Sr. have followed their son on the road throughout his career, but this time the elder Kinsey sensed things would be different. Instead of booking his hotel for two days, he made reservations for five. The Gamecocks fell two points short in the championship game. Afterward, the Kinseys sat among heartbroken South Carolina fans and watched as the Gators celebrated, but their support never wavered.
"They played a good game, they played hard, the shots just weren't falling," Sophia Kinsey said. "We're still very proud."
--Antonya English covers Florida athletics. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 813 226-3389.